Athletics

'Premier guy' Healy continues hot streak with two homers vs Yankees

'Premier guy' Healy continues hot streak with two homers vs Yankees

OAKLAND — Nothing about Ryon Healy’s pregame demeanor suggested he was in for a big afternoon.

The A’s young slugger described himself as especially “grumpy” while taking his morning swings in the batting cage with assistant hitting coach Marcus Jensen.

A few hours later, Healy was in a much cheerier mood while discussing his third multi-homer game of June. That headlined Oakland’s 5-2 victory over the New York Yankees on a sun-drenched afternoon at the Coliseum.

“Marcus, on the walk back up (to the clubhouse afterward) he was laughing saying, ‘All that fuss you did in the cage and you go out and have a day like that?’ Healy explained. “I said, ‘I’ve got to get it out of my system. I’d rather do it before the game than during it.’”

Healy’s 16th and 17th homers helped propel the A’s to their third consecutive win over the Yankees. They can finish off a four-game sweep Sunday, but they’ve already won the season series for the fourth time in the past five years against New York.

This weekend also continues a season-long pattern for the A’s:

Dominance on their home field (a 21-13 record) coupled with their extreme struggles on the road, where they are 9-25.

One couldn’t blame the A’s for feeling like this weekend’s series is being played on the road. They’ve drawn crowds of 30,000-plus each of the past two games, but a large portion in the stands is wearing Yankee pinstripes. And much like a May series in which the A’s took three of four from Boston before a heavy Red Sox fan contingent, playing well in this series has to be extra gratifying.

In fairness, the home fans are making a lot of noise this weekend too, and the A’s are giving them lots of motivation.

Besides the big days from Healy and leadoff man Matt Joyce, who homered and reached base five times, Oakland’s pitching held the Yankees to five hits. Jesse Hahn (3-4) gave up just three hits over five innings, but he ran his pitch count to 105, leaving a lot of work for a bullpen that was short-handed.

Liam Hendriks, Josh Smith, Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle combined for four scoreless innings, six strikeouts and no walks. Smith, a right-hander who usually has been called upon for mop-up duty, earned praise from manager Bob Melvin for his work in a 1-2-3 seventh.

“It was awesome to see the way we pieced it together today and have each guy come in and feed off the guy’s performance before,” Doolittle said of the relief corps. “There’s a lot of confidence for us down there.”

Healy continues to impress in his first full major league season, to the point where Doolittle claimed “you could put him in the All-Star conversation.” It’s not so far-fetched.

Riding a 21-for-56 stretch over his past 14 games, Healy has boosted his overall average to .288. He’s tied Yonder Alonso and Khris Davis for the team home run lead at 17, and his 42 RBI are just one behind Davis.

“He went through a considerable struggle at one point in time this year too, and he made the adjustment,” Melvin said. “That’s what the really good hitters do. … He’s a premier guy.”

Earlier this season, Healy said he hadn’t found his true comfort zone at the plate despite compiling numbers that would suggest otherwise. He maintains that position now, which could explain the batting cage grumpiness.

“I still think it’s getting there,” Healy said. “I’m not satisfied with the consistency of it. There are things I’m not doing well enough on a day-to-day basis.”

The things he’s doing right now suit the A’s just fine.

Vallejo-native, free agent-to-be Sabathia after Yankees loss: 'This is my home'

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USATSI

Vallejo-native, free agent-to-be Sabathia after Yankees loss: 'This is my home'

C.C. Sabathia couldn't save the Yankees' 2017 season. And now he has a decision to make.

After nine seasons in New York, the 37-year-old hits the free agent market this winter.

With career earnings nearing $250 million and a 2009 World Series ring already on his resume, would the Vallejo-native consider coming home to play for the A's? That's a question that was posed to NBCSportsBayArea.com Insider Joe Stiglich last week.

While it's a possibility, based on comments after Saturday's ALCS Game 7 loss to the Astros, it sounds like Sabathia doesn't want to leave The Bronx.

“I feel like this is a young team, and we will turn this into something great. This is my home, and I want to see this thing through," Sabathia told reporters, according to The Associated Press.

Astros win two straight vs Yankees, advance to take on Dodgers in World Series

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USATSI

Astros win two straight vs Yankees, advance to take on Dodgers in World Series

BOX SCORE

HOUSTON -- Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers combined on a three-hitter, Jose Altuve and Evan Gattis homered and the Houston Astros reached the World Series, blanking the New York Yankees 4-0 Saturday night in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series.

Just four years removed from their third straight 100-loss season in 2013, the Astros shut down the Yankees for two straight games after dropping three in a row in the Bronx.

Next up for the Astros: Game 1 of the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night. Los Angeles opened as a narrow favorite, but Houston aces Dallas Keuchel and ALCS MVP Justin Verlander will have plenty of rest before the matchup begins at Dodger Stadium.

Houston has never won even a single World Series game. The only previous time the Astros made it this far, they were a National League team when they were swept by the Chicago White Sox in 2005.

Now, manager A.J. Hinch's club has a chance to win that elusive first title, while trying to boost a region still recovering from Hurricane Harvey.

Houston improved to 6-0 at Minute Maid Park in these playoffs and became the fifth team in major league history to win a seven-game postseason series by winning all four of its home games.

Morton bounced back from a loss in Game 3 to allow two hits over five scoreless innings. Starter-turned-postseason reliever McCullers limited the Yankees to just one hit while fanning six over the next four.

Combined, they throttled the wild-card Yankees one last time in Houston. Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and their New York teammates totaled just three runs in the four road games.

CC Sabathia entered the game 10-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 13 starts this season after a Yankees loss. But he struggled with command and was gone with one out in the fourth inning.

Houston was up 2-0 in fifth when former Yankees star Brian McCann came through for the second straight game by hitting a two-run double after snapping an 0-for-20 skid with an ground-rule RBI double to give Houston its first run on Friday night.

The Yankees, trying to reach the World Series for the first time since 2009, lost an elimination game for the first time this season after winning their first four in these playoffs. New York struggled on the road this postseason, with this loss dropping the team to 1-6.

After going 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position through the first three innings, the Astros got on the board with no outs in the fourth with the 405-foot shot by Gattis off Sabathia which made it 1-0.

Altuve launched a ball off Tommy Kahnle into the seats in right field with one out in the fifth for his fifth homer this postseason. It took a while for him to see that it was going to get out, and held onto his bat until he was halfway to first base before flipping it and trotting around the bases as chants of "MVP" rained down on him.

Altuve finished 8 for 25 with two homers and four RBIs in the ALCS after hitting .533 with three homers and four RBIs in the ALDS against Boston.

Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel hit consecutive singles after that before Kahnle struck out Gattis. McCann's two-strike double, which rolled into the corner of right field, cleared the bases to push the lead to 4-0. Gurriel slid to avoid the tag and remained on his belly in a swimming pose at the plate for a few seconds after he was called safe.

It was just the second Game 7 in franchise history for the Astros, who dropped Game 7 to the Cardinals in the 2004 NLCS 13 years ago today.

Sabathia allowed five hits and one run while walking three in 3 1/3 innings. He wasn't nearly as sharp as he was in a Game 3 win and just 36 of the 65 pitches he threw were strikes.

Morton got into trouble in the fifth, and the Yankees had runners at the corners with one out. Bregman fielded a grounder hit by Todd Frazier and made a perfect throw home to allow McCann to tag Greg Bird and preserve Houston's lead. McCann held onto the ball despite Bird's cleat banging into his forearm. Chase Headley grounded out after that to end the inning.

A night after Springer kept Frazier from extra-bases with a leaping catch, Judge returned the favor on a ball hit by Yuli Gurriel. Judge sprinted, jumped and reached into the stands to grab his long fly ball before crashing into the wall and falling to the ground for the first out of the second inning.

Springer had another nifty catch in this one, jumping in front of Marwin Gonzalez at the wall in left-center to grab a ball hit by Bird for the first out of the seventh inning.